The Little Guys' Head Start - InformationWeek

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11/17/2005
11:45 AM
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The Little Guys' Head Start

"Standardization." It's a big word in business intelligence ever since organizations of all sizes stepped back, looked at the number of BI tools they were using, and realized it was, in a phrase, too many.

"Standardization." It's a big word in business intelligence ever since organizations of all sizes stepped back, looked at the number of BI tools they were using, and realized it was, in a phrase, too many.Analytics once were carried out on a project-by-project or system-by-system basis. You undertook a new business initiative, and then you put a BI tool in place to monitor the new data stream the initiative created. And one-off BI worked fine. Until it turned out that it was difficult, if not impossible, to get an overall picture of the organization's data, because information was spread out over many silos and being examined by tools that were never designed to interact with one another.

So the BI standardization movement is afoot. And here's something interesting: It turns out that it's the medium-sized businesses, not the big ones, that have a head start at bringing their BI technology down to a more manageable level.

According to The Data Warehousing Institute, companies with revenue of more than $5 billion annually use, on average, 3.7 BI tools. Businesses with sales in the range of $500 million to $5 billion have 3.1 BI packages. But the smaller firms--those with revenue of less than $500 million--use an average of only 2.3. So as far as standardization goes, the smaller firms are ahead in the race. In short, they've got a lot less work to do than their big, cash-flushed rivals.

As an Intelligent Enterprise story we bring you this week shows, that's not their only BI advantage. It also turns out that medium-sized firms have compiled the same business intelligence wish lists as their larger competitors. They want better BI, and they want to analyze more than just customer data. To that end, they're investing in more infrastructure and searching for new data sources, from both within and without.

Smaller firms shouldn't consider themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to business intelligence. Instead, they should focus on their advantages and make the most of them.

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